Solitude in Wendover


All day and all night, 24/7, several times an hour, a huge truck rolls by my window. The road is in good repair, potholes recently patched, but otherwise deserted. The trucks are a huge cab/engine with two long open containers hooked together, somewhat like railway cars. The trucks make a groaning noise as they level out.
Outside the CLUI residence here in Wendover is a sign: CHINA 6547 miles (pointing east)and HOLE TO CHINA 120 miles (west).
This is the work of Lucy Raven. Raven’s video of the journey of copper, “China Town,” starts with the huge mine in Ruth, Nevada (SW of here). The open pit dwarfs even the big CATS–it all looks like a model from a distance. The mine is its own topography–evocative, swirled, devastating. A mesmerizing abstraction.
We follow the rough extraction to our very road here, then on to a railway, and to Vancouver. Then by ship to Nanjing, and to the processing in China. Some of it seems so low-key–guys with shovels, a man with a twig broom. There is the festive looking Copper Co. with red decorations, smelting furnaces, molten slabs, polished sheets, and then endless spools of copper wire.
The copper goes to Three Gorges Dam that lights up Bejing.
After a few nights alone here–sunset, dawn–vastness seems to keep me company. The airfield lights up to the south for the last plane bringing tourists to the casinos across the Nevada line. Then it goes dark. The crescent moon comes up very late. Sunrise is late too, as we’re at the absolute western edge of the time zone–an orange ball of fire. I look too long and get a retinal after image burning on every surface I look at for the next few minutes.
There isn’t much in the way of animal life–a butterfly, houseflies, a flock of blackbirds. Something eats my bacon sandwich put out in the trash. There are spiders, grasshoppers, and beetles out there.
The playa grows greasewood, pickleweed, salt grass–and prickly things that cling to my pants.
I practice my Zen koan, given to me by Joan Sutherland-roshi. Stop the sound of that distant temple bell. Sometimes I say it as–stop the sound of that ancient temple bell.
I seem to hear the waves of the sea that was once here, the tide. The desert is so large I might swell to fill it, but after a while I don’t feel like myself–I feel like the desert.
Maybe this is my Walden Pond after all.

None of these images is quite perfect–although all evocative. Best I could find from stock photos.

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